Endless Summer: Spotlight on San Diego, 'America’s Finest City'

May 1, 2019

[courtesy of la jolla concours d'elegance]
[courtesy of la jolla concours d'elegance]

On Oct. 20–22, PRSA will be returning to San Diego for its annual International Conference.

Ahead of the event, we spoke with Robert Arends, PR manager of the San Diego Tourism Authority, about the best part of living and working in the city, his favorite spots and why it’s a great place for communicators to converge this fall.


What is the San Diego Tourism Authority doing to make the city a top destination?

The San Diego Tourism Authority drives more than 36 million visitors to our city each year through domestic and international sales and marketing efforts, including an extensive PR plan executed by our in-house team, and PR representation and outreach in eight countries: Mexico, Canada, the U.K., Germany, China, Japan, Australia and the United States. Those efforts are successfully putting San Diego on the world map as a top-tier destination like never before.


How much do you try to appeal to local San Diegans, in addition to tourists?

Our mission is to promote San Diego to visitors outside San Diego County, as that’s the core of our hotel business, generating tax revenue that funds the San Diego Tourism Marketing District. But we also remind San Diegans of the importance of tourism and being tourists in their own backyards during promotions like Kids Free San Diego Month in October and National Travel and Tourism Week in May.

Of course, locals love to use resources like our website and social media when they’re looking for places to visit, restaurants to try and new attractions to check out, especially when friends and family visit.


Your city is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. What are some other places or events that define the city?

Other major attractions synonymous with San Diego include SeaWorld, LEGOLAND California and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Several iconic places also define our city. A few of my favorites are: Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the U.S. with 17 world-class museums; Old Town San Diego, celebrating its 250th commemoration this year as San Diego’s original settlement and the birthplace of California; the USS Midway, where our rich military heritage comes to life; Little Italy with its “Top Chef”-helmed restaurants and thriving nightlife scene; and 70 miles of beaches, like postcard-perfect La Jolla Cove with its protected underwater reserve, a snorkeler’s dream!

We’re also home of Comic-Con, America’s largest comics and pop-culture event. The world’s first Comic-Con Museum will open in Balboa Park in 2020 — sure to become a signature must-see sight.


What’s the best part of living and working in San Diego?

The quality of life here is second to none. We’ve got perpetually nice weather that puts a sunny outlook and joy in working with media, tourism partners and the community. There’s an unparalleled work-life balance of relaxation, excitement and productivity.

Although we’re the second-largest city in California and eighth-largest county in the U.S., it’s a tight-knit community with a friendly, down-to-earth attitude that helps facilitate great meaningful relationships — both working and personal. San Diego also has a laid-back, SoCal vibe all its own that is very appealing and makes living here sheer bliss.


What is the local market like right now for PR pros?

It’s a great time to be a PR pro in San Diego, especially in the booming tourism industry, which is San Diego’s second-largest industry (behind technology/innovation and military) and employs 194,000 people — 13 percent of jobs in the county.


What are you looking forward to most in hosting PRSA’s International Conference?

I’m most looking forward to showcasing our beautiful city, wowing delegates with our exciting array of attractions and activities, and inspiring them professionally with our diverse, creative and adventurous spirit.

San Diego’s legendary weather, sparkling beaches and genuine welcoming vibe are sure to draw a big crowd this year, and big thinking on the PR front.


If people have some extra time after the Conference, what do you recommend they seek out?

Be sure to explore Liberty Station, San Diego’s newest arts and culture, dining and entertainment district, home to dozens of artist studios, galleries, museums and Liberty Public Market, the city’s first year-round food hall. At night, check out our speakeasy scene that transports you to other worlds of lush libations, like the tiki-tastic False Idol, gothic Noble Experiment, “Alice in Wonderland”-esque Vin de Syrah, Parisian-inspired Raised by Wolves, and the Asian dreamscape of Realm of the 52 Remedies.

And be sure to take some time to connect with San Diego’s unique bi-national culture, whether it’s dining on Cali-Baja cuisine or discovering the art and history of Chicano Park.


PRSA’s 2019 International Conference will feature keynote speeches from Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of “All the President’s Men,” and Frank X. Shaw, corporate vice president of communications at Microsoft. For more information on this year’s ICON, visit PRSA’s website.

Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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